This is the story of two Australian’s who decided over beers at a local bar to revive a dying male fashion trend, the mustache. Little did they know they would start a not-for-profit organization that would raise millions of dollars to support numerous men’s health issues.
Travis Garone and Luke Slattery began the first ever Movember in 2003 with twenty eight of their Aussie friends. The rules were simple. Every person was charged $10 to grow out a stache for the month and the proceeds would go to prostate cancer research. They were so enthusiastic after their first Movember that some members decided to take it to the next level. Adam Garone, one of the original thirty “Mo Bros”, registered the company and created a website, and another of the original members agreed to oversee the campaign. By 2006 the cause had grown so popular that they established an official charity in Australia called the Movember Foundation.
These days almost everyone has a family member or friend who has struggled to battle one form of cancer or another. Personally, two of my grandparents have passed away from it. My grandfather’s story, however, is the one relevant here. During his lifetime he was diagnosed with lung cancer, prostate cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma before he ultimately passed from brain cancer. To me, he was a Korea vet, a driven entrepreneur, a family man, but most importantly the only grandfather I ever knew. I saw him as a hero. It is his light-heartedness and willingness to fight for what he believed in that has inspired me to honor his memory by participating in Movember and working to permanently change the face of men’s health.
Since junior year of high school, I have always grown a mustache for the duration of the month with my close friends. At the high school I attended facial hair was prohibited, but during the month of November we were able to grow whatever stache we could manage for thirty days if we donate $10 to the charity (abiding by the original rules). Freshman year of college I noticed, much to the dismay of some girls (you know who you are), that lots of guys on campus cherish the opportunity to show off whatever hair they can muster on their upper lip. I also noticed, though, that there didn’t seem to be any formal connection in place with the Movember Foundation. There’s nothing wrong with people simply growing out a mo’ for the month of November as it spreads awareness of the charity, but I saw an opportunity for this friendly competition among friends to have a more tangible impact.
This year I entered Movember with a plan. The first thing I did was create my personal “mo space” page, which resembles many other donation pages with a brief description section, the current donation total and the donation goal. I was also fortunate enough to have a family member who pledged to donate $20 for each of my friends from high school and/or college who send me a picture of their mustache at the end of the month (if that applies to you please consider growing one out for the cause). In addition to my fundraising efforts, I am currently working with a custom T-shirt website and the Movember Foundation to design a long sleeve shirt that will be sold for $20. All of the proceeds going to the shirts will go to the charity. My goal is to raise at least $1,000 from my fundraising effort and another $1,000 from T-shirt profits.
Can Mustaches Actually Save Lives?
Many people are familiar with the concept of men growing out a mustache in November, but few are familiar with the charity and the scope of its impact. The charity has grown tremendously since the original original “Mo Bros.” In 2015, the Movember Foundation was ranked 55th in the top 500 non government organizations (NGOs) around the world by NGO advisor. Since 2003 they have raised $710 million dollars from over five million members (in 22 countries) to fund one thousand two hundred men’s health projects since.
“Movember’s success can largely be attributed to the strength of the global community,” states the charity’s website. The strength of their global community is largely due to the their incredibly effective social media outreach. Movember gets a lot of media attention through prominent celebrities and athletes who participate. They have been able to get approximately three hundred of seven hundred NHL players to participate. EA Sports has even partnered with the Movember Foundation to integrate players actual November looks into NHL 17. The foundation has also partnered with Facebook to create a filter that members can add to their profile pictures. Another strength of the NGO is their focus on making their website as simple and easy as possible for members, and more importantly donors, to use. This has proven effective too. Based on 2012 data, over 75% of traffic to Movember.com came either directly to the website or from Facebook.
Effective partnerships have rapidly spread awareness of the charity and their mission, which consequently creates a buzz on social media. This along with a website that is easy for both members and donors to use has allowed the organization to experience take tremendous strides towards forever changing the face of men’s health. I can only hope that the Movember Foundation can maintain relevance and continue to save and improve the lives of men across the world in the future.
If you enjoyed my article (or even if you didn’t), please consider either donating or buying a shirt once they are available for sale.